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Dreamer's Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel    by Juliet Marillier order for
Dreamer's Pool
by Juliet Marillier
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2015 (2014)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've been a stalwart fan of Juliet Marillier's extraordinary fantasy series (mainly set in ancient Ireland) since I read her first Sevenwaters novel, Daughter of the Forest. But somehow I missed this new Blackthorn & Grim series, which opens with Dreamer's Pool.

The leads both have dark histories of abuse that have seriously damaged them. Blackthorn is a magical healer, imprisoned (for the last year) and brutally treated for speaking out against the depredations of chieftain Mathuin. She hates him passionately for that and past actions. Hulking Grim mutters constantly as a kind of shield, but protects her when he can. As the story opens, her guards take pleasure in informing Blackthorn that, instead of having the chance to plead her case in front of all the chieftains as is her right, she's to be quietly disposed of the next day.

But before that happens, fey lord Conmael offers to save her, but on condition that she move to Dalriada and there use her talents to help anyone who asks it of her. She must put aside her vengeance for seven years. Blackthorn reluctantly agrees and her escape is engineered. In the chaos, Grim manages to get out as well and follows her. They settle together in an old cottage on the edge of Dreamer's Wood. Grim renovates the property and does odd jobs for the locals. Blackthorn prepares herbal remedies and works again as a wise woman.

Meanwhile, readers are introduced to young Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, as his parents press him to wed. When he sees a portrait of Lady Flidais, and reads her answers to his letters, he knows that he's found his soulmate. Her entourage journeys through Dreamer's Wood on the way to the prince's estate at Winterfalls, and Flidais, her dog Bramble and her maid Ciar swim in the pool, but the maid drowns. When Oran meets Flidais, she is not at all as she seemed in the letters and her beloved dog Bramble will not go near her - what has happened?

As we expect, Blackthorn and Grim (who have each other's backs when needed) eventually sort it all out, as well as rescuing a kidnapped young woman. They have become an effective team, and their adventures continue in Tower of Thorns!

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